Delhi's Purana Qila Emerges As A Time Capsule: Excavation Reveals Ancient Treasures, Pre-Mauryan Era Settlement

Swarajya Staff

Jun 02, 2023, 01:36 PM | Updated 01:36 PM IST

Delhi's Purana Qila
Delhi's Purana Qila

New excavation at Delhi's Purana Qila revealed evidence of the city's history since the pre-Mauryan era, such as Painted Gray Ware pottery shards dating back to approximately 1200 BC to 600 BC.

The Purana Qila may hold one of the G-20 leadership summit events in September, reports The Hindu.

It was constructed by Sher Shah Suri and Mughal emperor Humayun, and is speculated to be the location of Indraprastha, as mentioned in the Mahabharat.

Besides beads, seals, copper coins and a bone needle, the latest excavations have uncovered a wealth of historical artifacts, including:

  • a Vaikuntha Vishnu statue dating back 900 years from the Rajput era

  • a plaque of Goddess Gaja Lakshmi from the Gupta period

  • the structural remains of a 2,500-year-old terracotta ring well from the Mauryan period

  • a well-defined four-room complex dating back to 2,300 years ago from the Sunga-Kushan period

“More than 136 coins and 35 seals and sealings have been discovered from a small excavated area, indicating the site’s pivotal role as a centre for trade activities,” Union Culture Minister G Kishen Reddy said, according to the report.

Excavations at the site began in January and this was the third round. The earlier ones were in 2013-14 and 2017-18. In the past, the former Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) director general BB Lal had conducted excavations at the fort premises in 1954 and 1969-73.

Nine cultural levels representing different periods, including pre-Mauryan, Mughal, and Rajput, have been uncovered through these efforts.

“The ongoing excavation, initiated in January 2023, aims to establish a complete chronology of the site. Currently, structures from the early Kushana level have been exposed, with a depth of 5.50 metres reached thus far.

"This excavation is expected to provide further insights into the ancient city of Indraprastha,” said ASI director Vasant Swarnkar, as reported. Swarnkar is leading the current excavation.

Excavation reports from previous seasons have been submitted, but await publishing by the ASI director general. Dr Swarnkar mentioned that the findings from the current excavation will be compiled and submitted this year.

“The site will be showcased as an open air site museum, allowing visitors to experience the rich historical legacy of Delhi,” Mr. Reddy said.

Purana Qila would soon be reopened and the excavated remains preserved, conserved, and provided with a shed.

“The site will be showcased as an open air site museum, allowing visitors to experience the rich historical legacy of Delhi,” Minister Reddy said.

The Minister also mentioned that the excavated remains would be exhibited to G-20 summit delegates at the meeting scheduled for Delhi in September.

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